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President Bush Versus Congress; British Military Personnel Face Possible Trial in Iran; Car Bombings across Iraq; Baghdad Green Zone Heavily Targeted; Terror Suspect Pleads Guilty; Army Veterans and Deserters Find a Home in a Canadian Town; Ban on Grocery Store Plastic Bags

Aired March 31, 2007 - 12:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Next in the NEWSROOM, the fate of British sailors and marines held by Iran -- a threat is issued as diplomatic notes are exchanged. We're headed live to London for the latest on the crisis.
Plus a ban on grocery store plastic bags in San Francisco, will the move help the environment?


HALLE BERRY, ACTRESS: We're all struggling to find love. And not only love, you know, with the opposite sex, but love of self.


WHITFIELD: And an extraordinary secret revealed Oscar award winner Halle Berry talks about attempting suicide and what stopped her.

The news unfolding live this Saturday the last day of March -- March 31st, I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Well, new developments now in the standoff between Britain and Iran over those 15 detained sailors and marines. The British foreign secretary has responded to a written note from Tehran. At the same time, Iran is threatening to put the captives on trial. Our international security correspondent Paula Newton is following the latest developments from London -- Paula.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN NEWS INTL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, that threat actually to put the sailors and marines on trial was repeated again today by the Iranian ambassador to Russia. He prefaced that by saying they may be put on trial, perhaps, maybe leaving some kind of hope that this can still be resolved diplomatically.

What we had happen today was nothing that's going to look very dramatic for the families waiting for their sailors and marines to come home, but for people here at the foreign office who are dealing in the diplomatic toing and froing, they're quite, let's say, cautiously optimistic.

What happened was on Thursday, the Iranians sent a letter to the British embassy in Tehran, explaining their point of view. Today the British have said that they have responded. Now, British foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, is quite hopeful that it has been quite quiet, let's say, from Iran, we haven't had confessionals; we haven't had new video released, no letters released and I think she is saying she is hopeful she sees some kind of opening there.


MARGARET BECKETT, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: We have made our response and now we are beginning to discuss -- but as you may know, it's a holiday period in Iran and that is perhaps not too helpful at the moment.

QUESTION: The response has been...

BECKETT: The response has been...

QUESTION: Was that a diplomatic note in that form?

BECKETT: Yes, yes, we have had a diplomatic note, we have returned a diplomatic note.


NEWTON: That Persian -- that holiday is the Persian New Year, we still have two full days of official holiday in Iran. The British are hoping that once that 48 hour period is up, that as people return to work in Iran, it'll become clearer exactly what kind of channel of negotiation can open and that they will start to some progress. But Fredricka, one caveat here, everyone now is conceding they believe this will go on for a very long time, they believe that there isn't any kind of imminent release, here, for the sailors about marines -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Meantime, Paula, why is it that we have not heard much from the family members of the sailors and marines? Is it that the British Parliament or perhaps British intelligence or the armed services are telling those family members to keep quiet right now?

NEWTON: I have no information they've been told to keep quiet. In fact, one of the brothers of one of the sailors who was on TV yesterday did speak. He spoke even to CNN, the indication here we have, Fredricka, from near Plymouth where the HMS Cornwall is positioned, where a lot of these sailors and marines are from, is that people just want their privacy, they are sitting on tenderhooks at home watching the news everyday.

There are some buildings now, in that area, where I understand where you can see yellow ribbons, yellow ribbons up in some pubs, but right now they're just taking a wait and see approach -- cautious because they know a protest might inflame things further and they just don't want to rock the boat, as it were, at this time -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Right that makes sense. Paula Newton, thanks so much, from London.

Meantime President Bush today uses his weekly radio address to slam congressional Democrats for weighing down war funding bills with what he calls "pork and a timetable for withdrawal."


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrats loaded up their bills with billions of dollars in domestic spending completely unrelated to the war, including $3.5 million for visitors to tour the capitol, $6.4 million House of Representatives salaries and expenses account, and $74 million for secure peanut storage.

I like peanuts as much as the next guy, but I believe the security of our troops should come before the security of our peanut crop. For all these reasons that is why I made it clear to the Democrats in Congress I will veto the bill.


WHITFIELD: Meantime the pentagon says it could run out of money for the war in Iraq if feuding over funding isn't settled soon, but there's some debate over just how fast that would happen. Our congressional correspondent Dana Bash explains.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Democrats say a new nonpartisan analysis undermines White House claims that the fight over funding the Iraq war will soon put combat troops at risk. The Congressional Research Service says even without additional funding, the Army could finance the war for several more months, through most of July 2007. The report also says the Pentagon does have flexibility to transfer money from elsewhere for urgent requirements.

KATHLEEN HICKS, CTR. FOR STRATEGIC & INTL STUDIES: The process is that you rob Peter to pay Paul. Lower priority items will start to lose funding in order to pay for overseas contingency costs.

BASH: Democrats hope the new study helps rebut a powerful Bush argument in a standoff centered on Democrats' demands that Iraq war funding be tied to a deadline for troop withdrawal. America's top military officer warns if the Pentagon doesn't get $100 billion in war funding by April 15, the Army will have to curtail Reserve and Guard training. Quality of life initiatives like barrack upgrades would be reduced and equipment repairs suspended. And by May 15, General Pace warned, deployments to Iraq could be delayed; troops in Iraq would have to stay longer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you're saying there's a chain reaction.

GENERAL PETER PACE, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: There is sir and there are other things. I'll stop there.

SEN. HARRY REID (D) MAJORITY LEADER: Whose fault is that? Whose fault is that? We have waited for months and months and months to get this appropriation bill.

BASH: Democrats blame the president for mismanaging the war and weakening the military and say the Pentagon and White House are using scare tactics to try to get Democrats to back down in their push for a deadline for troops to come home.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: And what the president is saying, give me the money but don't expect me to be accountable.

BASH (on-camera): Congress has now left town for spring break and they're weeks away from sending a war funding bill to the president, one they know he will veto. So the question is how and when will the standoff end? How much are both sides willing to compromise on the issue of timetables for troops to come home in order to get money for troops who are still in Iraq?

Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.


WHITFIELD: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi taking heat for a planned visit to Syria next week. The White House is critical of both her trip and a scheduled meeting with Syria's president. The Bush administration accuses Syria of being a state sponsor of terror and aiding insurgents in Iraq. White House correspondent Elaine Quijano joins us live with more reaction. Why isn't the White House calling this an attempt at diplomacy?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good afternoon to you, Fredricka. The White House view is simply this that others have visited Syria before and that it hasn't done any good.


QUIJANO (voice-over): The White House pushed back hard against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a planned visit to Syria, a country on the U.S.'s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE DPTY PRESS SECY: We don't think it's productive to go to Syria and try to -- I don't know what she's trying to accomplish.

QUIJANO: Other Democrats have made the trip, including senator Christopher Dodd who's running for president and former presidential candidate, Senator John Kerry, and the White House says those visits play right into the hands of Syria's president.

PERINO: I know that Assad wants people to come and have a photo opportunity and have tea with him and have discussions about where they're coming from, but we do think it's a really bad idea.

QUIJANO: But foreign policy experts point out Pelosi could use her visit to send the Syrians a harsh message.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't use meetings just to be nice and have tea, you use meetings sometimes to read people the riot act or explain to them why their behavior needs to change.

(END VIDEOTAPE) QUIJANO: A senior White House official says Syria has heard the message before and has not changed its tune. Meantime a spokesman for speaker Pelosi is defending her trip saying that she's leading a bipartisan delegation as recommended by the Iraq Study Group -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Elaine Quijano thanks for that update.

Meantime some pretty severe weather in north Texas. You're looking at new video we're just now getting in out of Wiley, Texas where it's believed that not only do they have heavy rains, but they also believe that they had a possible tornado and some strong winds that caused some pretty severe damage in parts of Wiley, Texas.

About 51 homes damaged or destroyed overnight. You're looking at this woman getting assistance, right here. We don't know the exact circumstances of the kind of video we're seeing right now, but it simply underscores the high water and rain that they've been getting there and that woman getting assistance as she walks through that high water.

And I would think a pretty dangerous conditions there, too, especially while she's on the cell phone, there. Reynolds wolf, that's not a good idea in high water and a cell phone.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: No, she needs to be focused on one thing and one thing alone and that is get out of that water and to higher ground, which she certainly looks like she's getting good assistance there.


WHITFIELD: That's a very comprehensive look, a lot going on there. All right, thanks a lot, Reynolds.

All right, the Green Zone, you've heard it before, it's in Baghdad. Well, apparently it's been considered something of a sanctuary, even though it has been tested a lot lately. So what is it s going on with the safety zone? Is that safety being compromised?

Also pet owners have a new worry this weekend, find out why another pet food has been added to the recall list.

And you've heard this before, it's a very familiar phrase of question, I should say -- paper or plastic? Well, now in San Francisco, it's paper, paper and paper in some stores. Why? That's coming up in the newsroom.


WHITFIELD: Well, happening right now, a standoff between Britain and Iran now in its second week with the 15 British sailors and marines still being held by Iran. Diplomats are trying to resolve the standoff and there's word from Iranian officials that the British troops could face trial on charges of illegally entering Iranian territory. London says their troops were in Iraqi waters when they were seized.

Well, three more car bombings today across Iraq, 11 dead, more than 50 wounded, one of the cars exploded near a hospital in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood. The others targeted gas station customers and day laborers.

The so-called Green Zone in Baghdad, heavily protected, but is it being heavily targeted more than ever? CNN's Jamie McIntyre has that.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the now familiar video from a week ago, new U.N. Secretary Ba Ki-Moon flinches as an insurgent rocket lands nearby during a press briefing.

Rocket attacks, like this one that left a cloud over smoke over Baghdad this week, are frequent enough to show that the secure Green Zone is not so secure after all, especially lately.

A deadly attack killed two Americans, a contractor and a soldier and wounded five others, underscoring the danger. The Green Zone, officially called the International Zone, is a heavily guarded walled in section of Baghdad that is the site of the Iraqi government and parliament and sprawling U.S. embassy. The plan is to shrink the secure area over the coming months as the streets are reopened and turned over to Iraqi control under the new security plan. But in a plan has U.S. contractors and other private workers, including and some members of the Western news media worried, that a bad situation is about to get worse. Safety, after all, is often a matter of perception.

BRIG GEN JAMES MARKS (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Is there routine intervention into the Green Zone by bad guys? Of course, of course there is. Both on the ground and through mortar fire and through indirect fire, I mean, that stuff kind of happens.

MCINTYRE: Still the U.S. Military denies any plans to start moving nonessential workers out of the Green Zone because of any increased threat. The last known American death in the Green Zone was in February when a contractor was killed in a checkpoint shooting.

(on camera): The U.S. Military doesn't have a good explanation in the recent uptick in so-called indirect fire attacks. One senior military official told CNN it could be related to the detention of several leaders of a radical cell of Moqtada al Sadr's Mahdi army, another officer said Tuesday's deadly attack was simply a lucky shot.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


WHITFIELD: Australian David Hicks has become the first suspect convicted among the hundreds of Taliban and al Qaeda members detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Hicks' guilty plea was formally accepted yesterday as part of a plea deal, that deal stipulates Hicks was not mistreated at Guantanamo, an important point since Hicks has complained in the past of alleged abuse. Hicks' father is not pleased about that part of the deal.


TERRY HICKS, FATHER: The other thing that's come out of this is I believe the Americans have committed perjury by making David sign a piece of paper that's waivering suing the American government with their actions on him and also his mistreatment and abuses. Now we know for fact that David was abused, he was mistreated and yet he signed a piece of paper saying how he wasn't.


WHITFIELD: Hicks has been at Guantanamo for five years, he will eventually be transferred to an Australian prison where he will spend nine more months in custody. Australia's prime minister says Hicks got what he deserved.


JOHN HOWARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: The facts for all time will be that he pleaded guilty, the knowing assisting al Qaeda. Now, that's an absolutely undisputed fact. It's also an undisputed fact that he's acknowledged that the prosecution could have proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.


WHITFIELD: Hicks, a Muslim convert, was captured trying to escape into Pakistan after fighting briefly with the Taliban. In his guilty plea, Hicks admitted conducting surveillance in the U.S. embassy in Kabul on behalf of al Qaeda. He was given a seven year sentence with all but nine months suspended.

Well, we wanted to know your thoughts on a terrorism threat hitting close to home. Opinion Research Corporation did a poll asking whether you were or worried that you or someone in your family would become a victim of terrorism and here are the results from the more than 1,000 people polled: 44 percent say yes, while 54 percent answer no.

Well, you might not be worried, but many young Muslims are torn between innocence and extremism. Christiane Amanpour explores the battle over Islamic deals -- ideals, rather, in England and what drives some to turn to terrorism? CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT, THE WAR WITHIN, tonight and Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

LARRY SMITH, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Larry Smith, outside the Georgia Dome in Atlanta where it's the final four tonight. Georgetown, Ohio state, Florida, and UCLA. But I'll tell you why this year's final four is very different from any we've seen before. That's coming up -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: It is different indeed. We'll all be watching.

And one town in Canada has become a magnet for several generations of American war registers. Find out why, later in the NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: Famous fathers, famous sons, this year's NCAA men's final four is a celebrity watchers' dream come true. Each team has at least one player with a dad or a mom who made it big in sports. With us now, CNN's Larry Smith. What an exciting weekend all the way around.

SMITH: Yeah, it really is, Fredricka. It's always a lot of fun when you get college basketball's biggest spectacle comes down to this final weekend. Game one, Georgetown versus Ohio state, game two, the defending champion, Florida Gators taking on the UCLA bruins. And as you mentioned, not everybody has a famous dad, but certainly tonight there'll be plenty of fathers in the stands and we know exactly who they are.


(voice-over): It's the final four of famous progeny, Ohio State's Mike Connelly, Jr. is the son of an Olympic gold medalist. Florida's Joaquim Noah's father is former French Open champ, Janick Noah; and Georgetown's Jeremiah Rivers' dad is Celtic's head coach, "Doc" Rivers.

JEREMIAH RIVERS, GEORGETOWN GUARD: I think kind of helps me be -- be more humble about it and understand the experiences as just very rare and very -- you got to soak it up as much as you can. And but, you know, with our fathers being there, we haven't been there though.

SMITH: But for head coach, John Thompson III and Patrick Ewing, Jr. there's perhaps an even bigger legacy following in the footsteps of their famous fathers. Hoya coaching legend, John Thompson, Jr. who's star player was Patrick Ewing, together they won Georgetown's only national championship in 1984.

JOHN THOMSON, III, GEORGETOWN HEAD COACH: All of our parents, you know, have been supportive and I think that myself, Patrick, Jeremiah, you know, I think we have a comfort level with who we are and we'll let everyone else analyze and compare and contrast.

JOHN THOMPSON, JR., HALL OF FAME COACH: You know, this it is their time, it's not "Big Pat's" time, it's little Patrick's time and it's John's time. And most us feel very fortunate about being able to share in that.

PATRICK EWING, JR., GEORGETOWN FORWARD: You know, their knowledge of the game is, you know, way bigger than most people's. So, you know, just, you know, when they give us advice, it's, you know, we got to listen to it, because, you know, you figure they know what they're doing.

PATRICK EWING, FMR NBA PLAYER: When you're out there playing, you feel invincible like you can, you know, leap tall buildings. But as a parent and as a fan, you know, it's not in your hands, all you can do is yell with the rest of the fans. THOMPSON: You know, I was talking to Patrick early, he has some concerns about little Patrick. I said I hope you permit your son to have the relationship with my son that you had with your coach.


SMITH: Two of the names, as well, how about Florida point guard Taurean Green, his dad, Sid Green, played in the NCAA tournament with UNLV, played in the NBA, even coached in the NCAA tournament with Florida Atlantic several years ago. And for UCLA, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, his father is a chief back in his native country of Cameroon. Speaking of famous dads, though.


SMITH: Fredricka, I know you've got a famous dad, as well, though not you didn't make the athletic muster. What's up with that?

WHITFIELD: I know, it's embarrassing. I didn't get that, you know, gold medal DNA, he didn't pass it on down to me. But yeah, my dad, Olympian, 48 and 52 games, four gold medalists and oh my god, this is two years ago when I got a chance to interview my dad when we learned that London would once again be the place of an Olympics to take place. So for him, that was kind of like full circle and, you know, great news for him to be able to aspire to perhaps heading back to the London games as a spectator when he was -- you're looking at some video and some pictures here of what it was like to run in Wembley when it was a dirt track, Larry. Not the sophisticated stuff that we've got now. So, it really sticks to -- you know.

SMITH: Right.

WHITFIELD: Yeah, it speaks to what a lot of the prior athletes have been through and how they really do kind of exemplify the sacrifice for today's athletes, but really, you know, talking about Ewing and Janick Noah and John Thompson, I mean, it's got to be a tremendous amount of pressure, Larry, for these young guys to kind of fill the shoes of their dad.

SMITH: You know, you would think so, but actually talking to John Thompson III during Friday's news confreres one thing he said really is that it gives all of them a sense of confidence, they know they can go out and they can achieve. And certainly I know some people are also talking about the choice, last year, of Al Horford and Joaquim Noah, both whose fathers, again, were high-level pro athlete, part of their decision to come back and stay in school for their junior year is because they were the sons of pro athletes, and that, again, they had that kind of confidence and that kind of security that they could kind of go through, make this decision and take a more mature approach knowing what life is like as a pro athlete.

WHITFIELD: Wow, well, that's incredible. You know, my dad's going to be rooting for OSU because he's an alum of Ohio State University.

SMITH: Ah, there you go. Full disclosure. That was a good thing.

WHITFIELD: And I wanted to root for Georgetown because, you know, I'm from the Washington, D.C. area, even though I didn't go to Georgetown, but you know, hey whoever win, I'm happy.

SMITH: It's a free country. Hey, you can do that, feel free.

WHITFIELD: Oh, and, you know, one of my producers is saying "go Gators," so, you know, we've got all the love for all the teams.

SMITH: There you go.

WHITFIELD: All right, Larry. Thanks so much.

SMITH: All right.

WHITFIELD: All right, well, let's head west, an Arizona community there living in fear. So what is the threat? And how are those who live in the town fighting back?

And some would say she had it all, why would Halle Berry want to throw it all away by killing herself? Find out later in the NEWSROOM.

But first, this live look at the 41st Annual Smithsonian Kite Festival on the Washington Monument Grounds, always so great to see, especially this time of year, cherry blossom season. Oh, the time to be in the nation's capitol. We'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: It is a working parent's nightmare, a serial rapist who targets teenage girls. Police say he waits until mom and dad leave for work in the morning, then makes his move. More now from Cara Liu with CNN affiliate KPHO in Phoenix, Arizona.


CARA LIU, KPHO REPORTER: Derek Litten and Khirstin Lewis felt so strongly they went door-to-door themselves making sure their neighbors were aware a sexual predator was targeting their neighborhood.

DEREK LITTEN, NEIGHBOR: And this guy going around and staking out the neighborhoods and watching these kids, it's just very eerie and it's very, very sick.

KHIRSTIN LEWIS, NEIGHBOR: When it gets so close to where you live and where your loved ones are, you want them to understand that this is serious.

LIU: Police did much the same, passing out more than 1200 fliers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I was very impressed.

LIU: Investigators released new information in an attack in January. Police tell us the suspect wore a brown work coat and faded blue jeans. He also had tan work boots with fresh blue and white paint drops on them. His cell phone had a bells and rings tone and they believe he may have access to a newer white Ford F-150 with tinted windows and Arizona plates.

Detectives believe this man has been watching his victims before the attacks.

DET. PAUL KEE, CHANDLER POLICE: He has a comfort level into entering these houses. So which could lead us to believe that he's maybe done some surveillance himself.

LIU: Police say three teenage girls have been attacked since January.


WHITFIELD: And police say all the rape victims are from single parent homes.

Well, lawmen in Tucson, Arizona, call it a crisis. A truck load of suspected illegal immigrants and their smugglers are ambushed by gunmen looking for drugs. Two people are killed in a hail of gun fire. Two men are charged with homicide.

The local sheriff says such battles are an epidemic rather, along the Mexican border. He says the safety of everyone in Arizona is affected by the growing violence.

Well, listen up. Pet owners, before you fill up Fluffy or Fido's food dish, more pet food is being pulled. Hill's Pet Nutrition is recalling its prescription diet dry cat food, that food is only available at the vet's office. The Hill's food is the first dry food involved in the scare. It wasn't manufactured by Menu Foods at all -- the company at the center of the massive recall, but Hill's did buy suspect wheat gluten from the same supplier.


PAUL HENDERSON, CEO, MENU FOODS: The supplier's products was adulterated in a manner that was not part of any known screening process for wheat gluten. The important point today is that that source of the wheat -- the source of that adulteration has been identified and removed from our system.


WHITFIELD: So other products now added to the recall list -- all sizes and varieties of Purina's Alfo Prime Cuts in gravy, wet dog food with these specific date codes: 737 through 70-53, that's followed by the plant code 1159.

And so for more on what brands are included in the recall, go to, we'll have the full list for you. No confusion.

Well, now there is a little bit of confusion over paper or plastic. You know the question that you always get when you're at the grocery store. Well, soon shoppers in San Francisco won't have that choice, at least at large grocery stores and drugstores.

The new choice, bags made of recyclable paper or new biodegradable plastic bags. The goal -- to help the environment, but critics say there are some downsides, including increased costs for consumers.

Let's discuss the pros and the cons with our guest Jon Coifman is with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Good to see you. And Tim Shestek is with the American Chemistry Council, good to see you as well, Tim.


All right, so John, let me begin with you, why is it that this is now stirring up such global debate?

JON COIFMAN, NATURAL RESOURCES DEF. COUNCIL: Well this is really one of these situations where an everyday little dilemma for most people adds up at the end of the day to a really big challenge and a really big opportunity.

We go through about 100 billion, that's billion with a b, 100 billion of these plastic bags in the United States every year. About 30 billion in the grocery industry alone. When you add it all up, that's is close to 1, 500 of these plastic bags for your average American family of four.

That's a lot of plastic. This stuff is challenging to recycle. It's hard for waste handlers to deal with it in the dump, they blow, you'll see them in the trees, they sometimes wind up in the ocean where ...

WHITFIELD: Marine life is threatened.

COIFMAN: ... sea turtles, marine mammals think they're jellyfish and try to eat them. So all in all, we think that this is a challenge that we can get on top of.

WHITFIELD: But now it is indeed being challenged when you've got San Francisco who says, we don't want nondegradable plastics to be offered in grocery stores.

So Tim, it seems as though everyone has been in agreement that nondegradable plastic has been a threat to the environment and to wildlife, et cetera. So why is the argument being made, wait a minute, let's keep these bags in the stores, particularly in San Francisco, which is saying we don't want them anymore?

SHESTEK: Well, I think the point that is being overlooked here is that these are highly recyclable plastic bags. The industry, the grocery industry, consumers and governments locally here in California and around the country have been working hard to try to capture this material. This plastic is being used to manufacture new products, whether it's new grocery bags or building and construction or landscaping applications. So we're talking about a highly recyclable material that's in demand, really shouldn't be considered part of the waste stream but should be really considered a valuable commodity that people are using to make new products.

So the focus needs to be on recycling, not just necessarily on banning one particular product.

WHITFIELD: OK, go ahead.

COIFMAN: Unfortunately, we tried that in California. We spent about a year with the grocery manufacturers working on recycling, and what they found was they were getting less than 4 percent of the bags back. So, while it's true they shouldn't be a part of the waste stream, the fact of the matter is that 100 billion of these bags are part of the waste stream every year and that's what we're looking at trying to tackle here.

WHITFIELD: So Tim, you're saying that it's going to be a lot less cost-effective for a lot of these grocery stores and that there will be a ripple effect, consumers are going to have to bear the burden of how much more this will cost to eliminate this type of bag in the large grocery stores?

SHESTEK: Well not only are we talking about a potential increased cost to consumers but the reality is that the current recycling infrastructure handling plastic bags is robust, growing on a daily basis. These compostible bags actually pose a contaminant threat to the existing recycling infrastructure.

So while I think we're in agreement we can increase recycling, and try to reduce litter and marine debris, what we want to be doing is taking a positive pro-active step, the introduction of these types of compostible bags into the recycling stream could pose a serious contaminant, not just on the recycling stream in California but could have a ripple effect across the country.

WHITFIELD: So are you saying that really nothing should be done at all?

SHESTEK: No, absolutely not.

WHITFIELD: To change the way that consumers go about their daily business and merchants do their daily business?

SHESTEK: Absolutely not. What we're talking about is focused on increased recycling, the legislature here in California passed a bill last year trying to look at efforts to increase the recycling of these materials. A whole lot of effort needs to be focused on capturing the material as one of the most resource conserving materials out there. So what we need to be doing is focus on recycling, not banning the products.

WHITFIELD: All right, John Coifman and Tim Shestek, thanks so much for your time. I have a feeling this is just the beginning of our debate because there are a lot of other cities that are now going to consider this and watch closely at what San Francisco is doing, the successes and failures as a result.

COIFMAN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much for your time.

SHESTEK: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Well, Canada now has been a place where war resisters have fled for more than a century now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can walk around shops here and I see war resisters welcome here signs.


WHITFIELD: It's also where Americans from two generations and two wars meet, the emotional story straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

ERIK TORKELLS, EDITOR, BUDGET TRAVEL: Anyone who has ever had time to kill in airports and seeing as how 22 percent of U.S. flights were delayed last year, that makes a lot of us. Just wish that there was something to do besides sit there and wait.

Here's some good news. More and more airports are now home to gyms. They tend to have everything, free weights, machines, classes, locker rooms, sometimes even swimming pools. You can usually buy a day pass for around $10.

The truly organized among us will research things before they go. There's a Web site, that lists facilities in both airports and those that are within a 15-minute walk or shuttle or cab ride.

Of course, it's always a good idea to call before you go to make sure hours and policies haven't changed. Just keep an eye on the clock. The only thing worse than having to wait for a delayed flight is missing the plane when it finally leaves the gate.


WHITFIELD: Resisters, draft dodgers, deserters, that's what they've been called. They found a home in a Canadian town, apparently.

CNN's Thelma Gutierrez reports on that.


THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Nestled in the shadow of the Selkirk Mountains is the town of Nelson, British Columbia. You could call it a peace town, a region hundreds of American expatriots call home. Nelson is the town of 9200 people. Some residents claim per capita, there are more U.S. war resisters living in this area than any other city in Canada. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of the guys I know have really never been public with it.

GUTIERREZ: Why is that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just think they just want to live their lives and forget about it really.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Many war veterans have fled to Nelson to get away from it all, men like 59-year-old Doug Stamm, a Vietnam vet and 23-year-old Kyle Snyder who fought in Iraq and deserted. It's a world away from the wars they're trying to forget.

KYLE SNYDER, ARMY DESERTER: I sat back, I put my weapon down beside me, and then ba, ba, ba, ba, real quick, very, very loud. I can just remember the look on the man's face.

DOUG STAMM, VIETNAM VETERAN: I watched one fellow get shot about 15 or 20 feet from me and I saw him running at me, he was a very, very young soldier, Vietnamese soldier, and I'm sure he couldn't have been 16. I had that face in my -- you know in my night I could see his face for a long, long time.

GUTIERREZ: Stamp was a Wisconsin farm boy who grew up fast working naval intelligence. He came to Nelson in 1973 after his tour was over.

STAMM: We weren't treated very well when we came home. There was a period of time there in my early 20s, mid 20s where I had a lot of anger.

GUTIERREZ: Snyder grew up in foster care, moving from home to home in Colorado. He says he joined the army when he was 19 for health benefits and college money. Then went to Iraq.

SNYDER: I was a 50 cal machine gunner and I was an escort for very high ranking officials. What drew the line for me was one mission in particular where I had witnessed an innocent civilian shot in front of me.

GUTIERREZ: Shot by a U.S. soldier, he claims. Snyder says he filed a formal complaint. He says no disciplinary action was taken. The army concluded the shooting was justified because the soldier felt threatened.

SNYDER: I was first angry at that, and then I became angry at the fact that there was no repercussion. There was nothing done to prevent this from happening again.

GUTIERREZ: Snyder was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. He says he was granted leave while serving in Mosul, Iraq but he deserted and fled straight to Canada.

SNYDER: I made my decision off of the things I personally witnessed in Iraq. I didn't just wake up one morning and say I'm going to leave my country. I'm going to leave my friends behind, I'm going to leave everything that I know and everything that I love and built my entire life on. Nobody does that.

GUTIERREZ: In Nelson, Snyder learned he wasn't alone. Artist Ernest Heckerman (ph) came to Nelson from Washington state in the '60 to avoid serving in Vietnam. Teacher Irene Mock (ph) from New York followed her boyfriend here when she was 21.

Ryan Johnson volunteers with the war resisters campaign in Canada, a group that helps resisters settle in Canada and gain required refugee status and work permits. He came from a farm community in central California and says he went AWOL just five hours before he was supposed to deploy to Iraq.

RYAN JOHNSON, ARMY DESERTER: My family has a strong military background, so that part of the family doesn't agree with my decision to come here and haven't spoken to me since I've been to Canada.

GUTIERREZ: But in Nelson, these expatriots say they feel welcome.

SNYDER: I can walk around shops here and you know, I see "war resisters welcome here" signs. I see community getting involved and getting together. High schoolers come up and say what can I do to support the anti-war movement?

GUTIERREZ: All part of a long relationship going back to the 1800s.

THEA TRUSSLER, NELSON BUSINESS OWNER: The entire fabric of who we are as a community is about peace.

GUTIERREZ: From Russian pacifists to anti-war Quakers who settled the valley to draft dodgers during the Vietnam era and now Americans fleeing the Iraq war.

STAMM: I put my dog tags on when the troops went into Iraq. I felt bad for the kids who had to go, really bad. I knew what they were going to be going through and I knew that at first they were going to be supported, everybody would say, oh, this is good, we're going over there, we're going to get Saddam and do all that. But I knew what would happen after they were there for a while, I mean, you know, women and children would die, schools would get bombed. I mean it's war. I mean, that stuff happens in war.

SNYDER: I saw an innocent man that was shot.

ISAAC ROMANO, CANADIAN WAR RESISTERS CAMPAIGN: The opportunity for Vietnam veterans and current deserters and war resisters to begin to share their stories I think is really critical. I think that there's some opportunity with these stories to help Americans really reflect on both wars.

GUTIERREZ: Kyle says leaving Iraq was the hardest thing he's ever done. He's been called a traitor, he's wanted on desertion charges and he can no longer go home. But like other war opponents here, Kyle says for now, this is home.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Nelson, British Columbia.


WHITFIELD: And next, a baseball team known for its most tragic moment makes a comeback on the field. We'll show you how they're doing.

REYNOLDS WOLF, METEOROLOGIST: Hi, folks, I'm Reynolds Wolf with a look at today's allergy report. And we've got high traces of pollen in parts of the southeastern United States, especially in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and a sliver of parts of Arkansas.

Also in the desert southwest, we're dealing with all that yellow powder. Not too bad though in the central plains.


WHITFIELD: Play ball! For the first time since the deadly Atlanta bus crash claimed five teammates, a college baseball team from Ohio returns to the field. Opening day for the Bluffton University Beavers came a month late. The team's injured coach leaned against his crutches as his team took to the field. More than a thousand people watched the game, Bluffton lost its season opener 10 to five.

So she's beautiful, she's incredibly successful and she's an Oscar winner. She also thought about killing herself, even tried to carry it out. Halle Berry tells her story next in the NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: Oscar winning actress Halle Berry, among the world's most beautiful and successful women, behind the public persona, however, a dark secret Berry reveals in a magazine interview this week.

Here's Brooke Anderson.


HALLE BERRY, ACTRESS: We're all struggling to find love, and not only love you know, with the opposite sex but love of self.

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's hard to imagine being Halle Berry could be all that bad. Here's Berry the Bond girl here "Die Another Day."

Hers seemed a charmed life, born on the right side of genetics, the former beauty queen now holds the titles of first black woman to win a best actress Oscar and one of Hollywood's highest paid black actresses.

But this week, having it all in Hollywood took on new meaning as the star with work as diverse as "Monster's Ball" and "X-men" made a stunning announcement. She tried to kill herself in 1996. Telling this weekend's "Parade Magazine," "I was sitting in my car and I knew the gas was coming when I had an image of my mother finding me." She blamed the rock bottom moment on depression following her failed first marriage to baseball star David Justice. The woman who gave life to a black cat in "Catwoman" has had her share of bad luck, minor on set injuries in "Catwoman" and at least three other films sent her to the hospital.

In 2000, Berry pleaded no contest to leaving the scene of a crime after causing a traffic accident in Los Angeles. Then came marriage No. 2, to musician Eric Benet which ended after he reportedly admitted a sex addiction. A reflective Berry told CNN in 2002 --

BERRY: There are reasons why things happen, and usually they're there to prepare you for the next stage of life.

ANDERSON: The next stage for Berry is the release of her newest film, "Perfect Stranger" in two weeks.

PAUL DERGARABEDIAN, BOX OFFICE ANALYST: Her revelation about her attempted suicide just brings her into the spotlight in a very major way. And whenever you get people aware of a star whose movie is about to open, I don't see a down side for the box office.

ANDERSON: And if luck is on her side, she'll prove the cynics right.

Brooke Anderson, CNN, Hollywood.


WHITFIELD: Glad she's on the rebound.

A look at the top stories in a moment. "IN THE MONEY" is next, here's a preview.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks. Coming up on "IN THE MONEY," why Iran isn't the only reason your paying more at the pump. Plus, the forces driving campaign fundraising through the roof and all about the tax that tax payers love to hate and what's keeping it alive. All that and more after a quick check with the headlines.